June 6, 2014
Acceptance is one of those words like mindfulness. Sometimes it’s over-used and sometimes it’s misunderstood. Kind of like the word love?
Recently I read a post by Russ Harris, the author of The Happiness Trap, in which he suggests there are shades of acceptance. And I like that, the idea that there are different levels or degrees of intensity.
I’m so not a sports person but my post begs for a sports analogy.
One level of acceptance is first base, when I stop running away from something and let it in even just a little bit. I give it permission to just be there, to whatever degree I can tolerate.
Second base is when I open up to it, maybe even lean in a tad. I decide to willingly experience whatever it is that life is presenting. At this level I seem to feel a bit less pressure—and a little more relief. As I open up my resistance goes down. Everything seems a little lighter—I’m taking myself less seriously and I seem better able to think and problem-solve.
And then there’s third base. It’s the place where for whatever reason I’ve been able to drop my defenses and really lean in and embrace something from my heart. Occasionally I’ve been at third base, to the point where I’ve danced with and felt gratitude for the experience and what it taught me. My bout with breast cancer and radiation comes to mind. And I’ll admit I really, really like that place, that degree of acceptance. Yet even that isn’t static – there are some parts and outcomes of that experience that I still experience resistance around.
Honestly there are things in my world, in my life, that I may never be able to embrace fully or feel real gratitude around. I think that’s OK.
I don’t think it’s helpful, or even workable, to turn acceptance into a project, like you start at one level and strive to get to the top level.
I like the idea of seeing it as simply one more tool in my toolbox. As you all know, I like to feel good. And the truth is, the more accepting I am of the reality that surrounds me, the better I seem to be at working with it to my advantage.
So I don’t think it matters whether I’m on first, second or third base—if I’m in the ball park I’m good!